5 Secrets to Staying Young

Neal Iwamoto
September 20, 2016

The 2016 Hawaii Seniors Fair will be held September 23-25, at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. It’s a great event for seniors to learn more about their health and well-being and the services and products available to assist them. Visit the HMSA booth where you and the seniors in your family can share your personal well-being habits on our well-being wall, discover discounts through our HMSA365 program, and ask questions about your health plan. Seniors can also get their blood pressure and BMI checked and get a flu or pneumococcal shot. 

Last year, thousands of senior citizens descended on the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall for the 2015 Good Life Expo. As they visited the HMSA booth, we asked them, “What’s your secret to staying young?”

What did our kupuna have to say? Here are their top five answers:

1.  Exercise
This was by far the top answer and it makes sense. Studies have shown that staying active helps prevents sarcopenia, the natural muscle loss that occurs as we get older. Increasing or maintaining physical strength helps you keep your independence, stave off chronic diseases, improve mental health, and prevent accidental falls, which I wrote about in an earlier post. Our seniors said they like to walk, swim, bike, dance, play golf and do tai chi, among other things. 

2.  Spending time with family and friends
Being around friends and loved ones has a meaningful impact, both physically and mentally. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, staying social can lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for depression and other mental illnesses. And what better way to stay young than being around young people? Playing with and taking care of grandchildren was one of the most popular responses among our kupuna. 

3.  Eating healthy
What you put in your body affects how you look and feel. Good nutrition can prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other ailments. Some of our seniors shared what’s on their menu—red wine, poke, fruits, oatmeal, coffee, chocolate, and broccoli, to name a few. Looking for an anti-aging diet? Check out which foods you should be eating and which to avoid here

Drinking plenty of water was another frequent answer. Water is a vital source for energy, immunity, and organ function. More than half of our body weight is made of water and that amount decreases as we age. So it’s particularly important to stay properly hydrated as we get older. 

4.  Laughing, smiling, and being happy
Smiling and laughing makes you look younger. Perhaps more importantly, it makes you feel younger and more alive. Various studies have shown that laughing helps relax tense muscle, reduces the production of stress hormones, and boosts the immune system. While it’s debatable that “laughter is the best medicine,” it certainly doesn’t hurt.

5. Working/Volunteering
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of workers 65 and over has been trending upwards for decades. Working and volunteering helps keep your mind active and, socially speaking, connected with others. 

It also helps give you a sense of purpose. How important is that? Dan Buetnner, best-selling author of The Blue Zones, says that knowing your sense of purpose is one of the nine shared traits among those who live longer, better lives. In fact, he says it’s worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.

While these were the top five answers, there were plenty of other great secrets to staying young that our seniors shared: traveling, sleeping well, spending time with pets, and being engaged in such hobbies as gardening and crafts.  

Do you or the seniors in your family have secrets to staying young? Share them with us! 

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